Obtaining formal identity is still a barrier to financial inclusion for rural female agricultural workers in Nigeria, a report by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture has revealed.

The research, which focused on “Access to identity, empowerment, livelihood and financial inclusion of rural female agricultural workers and traders in Nigeria,” found there are several re-occurring factors preventing these women from gaining a National Identification Number (NIN).

According to a summary of the report, “The general problem of lack of capital necessitates that they obtain official ID and have access to the formal financial system.”

It adds: “The barriers to NIN enrolment remain consistent, bordering largely on cost of transportation and enrolment, distance to enrolment centres and tedious enrolment processes.”

The NIN is the unique number which identifies individuals for life and is issued by the National Identity Management Commission [NIMC] after enrolment. It is used to match the individual with their biometric data and other details in the National Identity Database during verification and authentication.

In particular, the ability to recognise the benefits to having official types of identification such as opening a bank account and registering a mobile phone is a pathway to accelerate their formal inclusion, the report notes.

Although socio-cultural factors did not emerge as direct barriers to ID enrolment, the report recognises a North-South divide in normative cultural differences that “dictates the level of empowerment of women and ability to take decisions independent of their spouses.” In the south, women are more likely to have greater independence in both business and personal activities.

What are the next steps?

In concluding the report, the researchers also produced six key recommendations to enhance access to formal ID for excluded women. These include:

  • Creating awareness and having the backing of religious leaders and traditional rulers.
  • Facilitating the process of obtaining ID such as NIN.
  • Training for local leaders so they can help other women who have limited mobility, education or access to the necessary information.
  • Registration points close to communities to reduce travel costs, time and enhanc access to ID.
  • Training for enrollment agents so they can interact more effectively with the people as well as justknowing how to conduct the process.
  • Improve network service so that people can complete the process when they go to register and do not need to go back.
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Image source: Inclusion for all